Speaking of Turmoil – a sermon on Matthew 21:1-17

4702067918_33f067ebe1_bMathew 21:1-17

His reputation certainly preceded him.  Adoring crowds accompanied Jesus and gathered ahead of him, while the anxious city awaited his arrival.  His supporters had been building around him for some time.  His ministry started of more like a small group than a megachurch, but after the word started to spread about the healings he provided, the miracles he performed, the blessings he procured, he wasn’t traveling alone much anymore. Coming down from the mountain of the transfiguration, a crowd was waiting for Jesus, out of which he cured a boy with demon.  Traveling to Judea beyond the Jordan where he was tested by the Pharisees on the intricacies of religious law, crowds gathered to hear and see Jesus, even to be healed by him.  Leaving Jericho and turning toward Jerusalem, having just predicted his punishment, death, and rising to new life, a crowd is determined to follow Jesus, even into the unknown.

It’s no wonder the city was stirred up in turmoil when this crowd of Jesus’ supporters was heading straight for Jerusalem.  They came marching toward the gates, waving branches, offering even the cloaks off their backs to honor this him, talked of prophecies being fulfilled and shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!”  The city was expecting devout pilgrims for the Passover observance.  But now they had either a parade or a protest.  It may have been hard to tell the difference. The teachings of this Jesus were not the normal teachings. He di something with them.  He didn’t counter them, but someone reapplied them.  He took the law of Moses, kept the core, and expanded on it for a new day.  It was challenging to some, to say the least.

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The seats in the middle of the sanctuary

A few weeks ago I found myself in the church sanctuary all alone. Now, that isn’t completely abnormal. I’m regularly running

The view from the seats in the middle, FPC Hudson, WI

The view from the seats in the middle, FPC Hudson, WI

into the worship space for one thing or another.  Maybe I left my Book of Common Worship on the communion tableSunday, or more likely my son left his iPod under the chair. But this particularly afternoon I had wandered in for some completely different reason that is lost to me now, and instead of wandering right back out I sat down for a little while, in the middle of the sanctuary in the middle of a row in the middle of the day when I am not leading worship.  I got stuck there — in a good way — for a while.

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Ready or Not – a sermon on Matthew 25:1-13

Matthew 25:1-13

Hide and Seek was a favorite pastime in the neighborhood growing up.  When we first moved to Shore View Circle in Indialantic, Florida there were easily ten children between the ages of about seven and twelve in small cluster of homes whose side and back yards all met up together forming the greatest field of play in existence.  Large shrubs, a few fat squatty palms, tool sheds, some fenced yards, and back patios all provided stellar hiding spots.  In fact, sometimes the problem wasn’t finding a place to hide, but simply choosing which spot would be the right one this time.

3662330204_54e1404d62_qAt the start of each round we would gather pretty much at the center, the spot where the corners of three or four properties all met.  The counter would start counting – 1… 2… 3… 4… 5… – and the hiders would start hiding.  There was always a mad dash for some of the favorite spots and no end to strategizing.  Did you want a great spot far away from base or something that might be a little more exposed, but with a shorter run?  If you were indecisive, as I was, you might still be looking when the counter announced, “48… 49… 50!  Ready or not, here I come!”

“Ready or not!”  Those are the words that could strike terror in the hearts of the unprepared, those with no place to hide, no cover chosenfor this round of the game.  Continue reading

Starting over… for some reason

I’m an external processor. When I’m trying to work something out, when I’m not quite sure where to go next, when something is bothering me or exciting me or driving me forward I want to, no, have to work it out outside of my own mind, usually verbally. Often that working out starts with me saying “for some reason” and then trying to figure out the reason.

For example, a few months ago I texted a friend saying that “for some reason” I was going to attend chapel at my daughter’s preschool. This isn’t something I do regularly. I don’t usually remember when chapel is held for her class. I don’t normally make room for it in my own schedule. It’s just not my practice. This particular week I had been invited to the chapel as a pastor in town for Pastor Appreciation Month.  The rest of that story, in which I work out the reason I went to a service where I wasn’t quite sure I would really be welcome, will appear as a chapter in an up-coming book, There’s a Woman in the Pulpit. (How’s that for a teaser?) Ultimately, what was important for me was following the thread of my pondering “for what reason” to unravel a stronger sense of my own call to ministry, the leading of the Spirit in my life and the life of my community.

I had another blog for a while, but for some reason it never quite worked for me. Sure there were seasons I wrote on it regularly, but for the most part it just felt… blah. I think I didn’t know what I was trying to do with it. I think I didn’t have a voice worked out. I think I just didn’t trust that I had something to say.

For some reason, though, it’s time to start over. I’ve had some friends nudge me a little here and there, women and men I respect, people whose lives and ministries I admire. I’ve watched a lot of important conversations take place, conversations I care about, conversations of which I want to be a part, but conversations I’ve missed for lack of a place to join in and the discipline to stay engaged. I’m growing more confident that I’ve got something to add to this world of writing and talking about ministry, the church, families, and the world around us, and, well, even late to the game, I think I want to try to join.

I’m excited and nervous about trying to make my way into some of these waters. Disciplined writing has not ever come easily to me. I also worry that thinking of things to write about here will be as difficult as deciding what to write in the monthly church newsletter. But again, for some reason, the time seems right, if not overdue, to join the conversations happening around the church and culture blogosphere, so here I am. May God, the ultimate reason, bless whatever I offer.